As he sees it, US troops could be replaced by forces from regional states -- funded by the US, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Perhaps European states and Japan could contribute as well.
If 10 countries could be convinced to come in, all but two US divisions could leave. If the effort were seen as one of ending the US occupation by supplanting the US with a UN/Arab League force, many governments that now fear to buck their own public opinion by collaborating with the US might be in a much better position to send troops. Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Yemen and Morocco could all easily spare 10,000 troops each, and more such partners could be found. Perhaps under these conditions even the French and the Russians would be willing to come in, as well.It's concrete and I kind of like it.
Cole also talks about other tasks ahead: negotiating a solution to the Kurdish problem, creation of a new multiethnic Iraqi army, etc.
Key to the entire plan is US willingness to hand over the question of Iraqi security to multilateral command. If the US continues to assert operational control, then few other states will come on board.
Thus, don't put too much stock into media reports that the Bush administration is pursuing this possibility (or something similar).
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